Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 17, chapter 86

I found a review on ff.net that probably echoes with many others who are not as immersed in LW culture and even those that are. I thought a discussion of this person's points would be constructive so I've copied the review here: " So.

I have a few problems with this.

First of all, the use of terms and situations that the readers don't understand. In earlier chapters, you would do this, and then you would EXPLAIN the reference. That was something I liked. It was educational. Now, however, you're simply calling on references and expecting the audience to understand. I get that it would be irritating to have to explain everything, but it gets to a point where your fanfiction gets mixed up with your essays. And that's not good, because the result of this mixture fails to do the job of either a fanfiction OR an essay. Remember, the people who read this are unlikely to be previously familiarized with such sources.

Now, I don't think you're doing this on purpose, but to a reader who doesn't BREATHE the terms you use because they aren't in your field, it seems as though the only reason you include these are to make Harry seem smart. To you, it may seem natural for Harry to use such sources. To your readers, it seems pretentious, as though they are meant to consider Harry's educated-sounding thoughts as far beyond them. That brings me to another problem.

Harry is becoming a bit of a Gary Stu. He is portrayed as being far more intelligent than others, to the point that he becomes the center of all intelligent thought. Mcgonagall and Dumbledore are reduced to gasping over Harry's complex reasoning. I find it worrying that Harry doesn't bother to try to explain things to them because "they wouldn't understand." Also, Minerva is shown as being bewildered by Harry's discussion with Moody. The only characters NOT bewildered are Alastor, who is being spun as hypercompetent right now, and Quirrel, who is an established mentor figure.

Particularly disturbing was the scene with Dean. The way non-rationalists are portrayed is ridiculous. The whole scene gives me the feeling that the main characters have just converted to a religion and are mocking the practitioners of the old, who are characterized as shallow and wildly fanciful. It's really like you're saying that characters are !stupid until they are "saved" by Harry, who shows them the way of rationality. Mcgonagall herself is "he couldn't expect a witch to understand that." It reeks of superiority.

Furthermore, Harry has never been beaten. He has made mistakes with consequences, and learned lessons, but he has not been defeated in what he considers his own field. No one has out-reasoned him. Hermione has beaten him academically, but she is characterized as accomplishing this due to hard work and memorization, rather than being smarter than Harry. If Harry were to be defeated when he thought he had outsmarted the opponent BECAUSE the opponent outsmarted him, it would help to dispel this.

This is what I have to say. I hope that you won't simply think of this as a flame, because science forbids dismissing any argument on the ground that it is unreasonable without actually making it clear what said fallacy is.

Waiting for a reply,

A concerned constructive critic. "

Open Thread, November 16–30, 2012


What are your thoughts on this article? How can a layman discern between good and bad neuroscience in books?

Book Recommendations

Can anyone recommend a good book on improving social intelligence? This is probably a subject that would be helpful to many of us.

Less Wrong Product & Service Recommendations

One method I use to share files quickly and anonymously is to use DropCanvas ( http://www.dropcanvas.com ). It has a simple interface, allows direct linking, and does not require signing up.

We prosecute CEOs for failing to do due diligence. But with people, we call it 'faith'

It's still the same in the original post. Maybe you forgot to change it?

We prosecute CEOs for failing to do due diligence. But with people, we call it 'faith'

those who are effected by our actions

Minor nitpick: effected' should be 'affected'.

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